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Lottery sales take a dip

After the Florida Lottery's best year ever, sales in the past 12 months have dropped about 8 percent _ the biggest single-year decrease since it began in 1988.

Lottery officials estimated total sales for the budget year ended June 30 at $2.056-billion, down $182-million from the prior year. They blamed the slippage on bad luck.

"We have had a dramatic lack of rollovers," Lottery Secretary Marcia Mann said. "We've really had a terrible dry spell."

Lotto is the Florida Lottery's big game. It generated about $735-million in sales last year, according to legislative analysts. But that was down more than $170-million from the year before _ the bulk of the overall drop.

This year, the computerized Lotto game saw people win more often on the first week of each jackpot. That meant jackpots rarely built to the tens of millions that tempt people into buying more tickets.

In the previous record year, there was one three-time rollover. There was none last year. Also, the number of jackpots that rolled over twice dropped from seven two years ago to four last year.

Multiple rollovers generate more than $100-million in extra sales, Mann said.

"This has occurred in about every lottery at one point," said David Gale, executive director of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

The games are in a "rebuilding year," Mann said. She said the lottery has recently contracted with a new group of advertising and marketing companies to promote its games.

Lottery officials said payments to Florida schools and universities will still total about $800-million. The lottery has been paying in installments all year and usually turns in millions extra that was saved on administration costs.

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